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VA to provide abortions in certain cases regardless of state restrictions

The seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs
Charles Dharapak
/
AP

The Department of Veterans Affairs said it will provide abortions in certain cases to veterans, regardless of state restrictions. The rule will allow veterans and eligible dependents to receive abortions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the pregnant person is at risk.

In a news release, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said the decision was a matter of patient safety.

Since the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June, Idaho has moved forward with bans on all abortions except in limited circumstances.

Under the new state restrictions, women and pregnant people in Idaho could be eligible for abortions in cases of rape or incest but would need to provide a police report. Advocates argue this effectively prevents abortions in cases of rape or incest as the police do not release reports while an investigation is ongoing. In contrast, the new VA rule would allow for self-reporting.

“Pregnant Veterans and VA beneficiaries deserve to have access to world-class reproductive care when they need it most,” he said. “That’s what our nation owes them.”

“Restricting access to abortion care has well-documented adverse health consequences, including increased risk of loss of future fertility, significant morbidity, or death,” according to the release.

VA’s Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, said the restrictions were creating a medical emergency for veterans and “offering this care will save Veterans’ health and lives.”

Under the rule, the VA could also coordinate abortion at private providers in states where the procedure is legal. It also allows the VA to coordinate abortions at private providers in states where the procedure is legal.

Since 1980, the Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions outside of cases of rape, incest or if the life of the pregnant person is in danger. This prevents funding for abortions for Medicare and Medicaid patients, Native Americans, U.S. servicepeople and veterans, Peace Corps members and people incarcerated in immigration detention centers and prisons.

There are about 130,000 veterans in Idaho, 11,000 of whom are women. It’s unclear how many dependents in the states would also qualify for these benefits.

The Idaho Division of Veterans Services did not respond to requests for comment.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.